3-24-08

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3-24-08

New Plan. I got to thinking about the On Alert mode, and how enemies will be able to see you in two directions and so on. I could not, for the life of me, get that to work from a design perspective. Designing “Stealth” levels and getting the Alert Mode to not be a bad Metal Gear rip just doesn’t work. So, I sat back and reconsidered what the game itself is, and to quote myself, “Errol Flynn doesn’t stand there and wait for enemies to attack him, he gets up in their faces and kicks their ass.” Errol Flynn doesn’t hide like a sissy. Sinbad never said, “I hope those animated skeletons don’t see me.” And Hector with his blazing helmet (from the Iliad – read a book) never hid and thought, “I’ll hide here until they forget about me….in, say, 30 seconds or so.”

So anyway, back to basics. I found myself fighting to focus on this project, when my mind kept wanting to wander off and think about other things, like what I codenamed Knight. In effect, I started to loose what makes Thief, well, Thief. So back to next gen platforming with old skool (with a ‘K’) mentality. So no stealth. I want Prince of Persia, but with some extra awesome sauce poured lovingly on top.

Consequently, some of the extra stuff I wanted to add, are now no longer in the game. They were cut like the fat kid on the track team, which is to say, which prejudice and ridicule. So, no more alert stage, and no more staggered state. Added in their place, is the ability to put your arms over your head. I refer of course, to climbing a freaking wall. This will fix a stupid bug, and bring the game into the “next gen” method of platforming. The bug, by the way, is that you stick to the wall, no matter how high you are on it. So I’ve stuck when I was only touching the wall with my foot, leaving Zero to float like an idiot. Now, I’m thinking, since the coordinates used for both the rectangles and the character are the same, I tell it to put the character into a stunned, climbing mode if they collide with the box, and are higher than it.

– With that finished, I can maybe get restarted on ThiefEd. Now I see why tools programmers are so highly sought after. “Yes, I would like you to build a method for creating levels/ sounds/ input controls for something that doesn’t exist yet. Now get to work, we need it as soon as you would know what it is.” It’s a catch-23, which is like turning the absurdity/ stupidity up to an 11.

– What else? Ah yes. I think that once I get the game working and running on PC (where it lives and loves), I’ll get around to playing with controller options. I know, I should probably have built in controller support from the get go, but it sounded hard, and I didn’t have a controller to pay with, so I don’t have it yet, oh well. The trick for me, is not to get it to work, but to get it to work decently. You see, in the language of Blitz Plus, it polls the keyboard and looks for the key you tell it to look for (is the Spacebar being pressed computer?). With the controller, it seems to use a different system altogether…

-Check that. It seems you could tell the computer, “Hey computer, what button am I pressing?” I didn’t do that, since I would frequently need several buttons pressed at once (like a jump, doublejump while moving combination – 3 keys). Instead, I ask on a case by case basis, so installing controller support shouldn’t be that hard actually. I could probably also set it so the player can do their own button layouts too, since I use variables for all of the anyway (like the one I called CtrlKey – 5 points if you guess what that does). Anyway, the real meat and potatoes for doing it at all is so I can use analog control on it. That right there, is some more of that next gen nonsense I’ve been on about. Get that figured out, and the control will finally be golden.

-Furthermore, it brings me to my next point. I think I know a way to get this thing to play on my 360, and maybe a way to distribute it. Microsoft (spelled without the $ – you wankers) had previously created something called XNA for their fine Live service. I considered this, along with the Torque system for this project before finally moving on to Blitz, so I would learn something useful. Anyway, at the time projects had to be made using the built in XNA software, which used some variant of C – which I hate. So, I thought, F it, I’m putting this online with a “pay me what you can” method for maybe buying lunch. But the new system actually seems to allow you to use any Windows Executable file, so long as you packed it correctly using the built in tool. Turns out, the 360 on your TV actually runs a modified version of windows (again, spelled without the “bl”), but with a slightly esoteric file structure. This means that when it is finished, and have analog support, then I would conceivably put it up with the Creator’s Club and maybe get it approved for a real Live Arcade release. This is of course, all dreams and whispy hopes, but that would certainly be very, very cool. Besides, I think there is a lack of hand drawn platformers on the service, don’t you?

-Who am I kidding? I would so laminate the first $1.00 PayPal payment and frame it. I’m such a sucker for those kind of things.

– Finally, I have a word usage that I think is odd. The terms are “Next Gen” and “Old Skool” (spelled like in Invader Zim. I’m an English Major, I do it wrong on purpose and for effect) When I refer to games as either I am not referring to their graphics, since I don’t care that much. I prefer style of polygons, but that’s just me. I refer to the gameplay. Things I consider next gen are gameplay elements that are post N64. So, the double jump comes to mind, so does a block button, save points, wall jumping, analog control, open world games and emergent gamplay. This is not to say that some games before the N64/PlayStation didn’t have those things, but they became more commonplace afterwards. For example, Double Dragon is an old skool beat em up, while Ninja Gaiden Black is a next gen. Viewtiful Joe is a nutty hybrid I am very fond of. See the difference? Oh, and speaking of Ninja Gaiden, cut scenes are not next gen, they were in the original made almost 20 years ago. Old Skool games are all about genre conventions and a focus on the core gameplay. They didn’t do much, so they had to focus on doing 1 thing very well. Hence the chopping of the stealth. So Metal Gear had stealth, it’s what it did. Mario had jumping and moving, Sonic had speed, and the Prince of Persia had exploration and sword fighting. What I like to do, is the mash up. I want to do the focus on genre, but mix in influences from both generations to create something new and original. Like a modern western movie or anything by Tarantino. Make the old, new again, and make you feel like you did when you played it for the first time.